Plastic Free July Again comes around and we all hear about the reduction of plastic use in our daily lives. Much of the messaging is aimed at youth through school and youth-oriented messaging. As a science and environmental educator and parent, I often think about what it means to teach young people about environmental action.
A couple of years ago, one of my children came home from school concerned about almost every major environmental problem in the world. He studied sustainability; I asked him to tell me more about it.
In his notes on global warming, poaching, deforestation and other big challenges, there were two points about plastic: “Plastic is bad for the environment. I need more processing.”
We offer individual solutions for big problems
On the one hand, I was excited to include it in the sustainability section—a topic that teachers often struggle to fit into a tightly packed curriculum.
Still, I was concerned that the list of actions he cited as solutions to these big problems seemed inappropriate for people his age, or outside his realm of authority (for example, “don’t hurt animals”).
Almost all focused on individual behavior change.
Fortunately, we live in a city where our waste management system includes a curbside recycling program. But only certain types of plastic (number 1, 2 or 5) can be recycled.
Not all towns and cities in Aotearoa have this infrastructure – although there are a proposal Cities with a population of more than 1,000 require city councils to provide this service to urban families.
Globally, only 9% of the 15% of plastic waste collected is recycled actually recycled.
Although there is no available data on how much is recycled in Aotearoa New Zealand, we produce excess 17 million tons Every year, 13 million tons of waste end up in landfills.
New Zealand’s recycling rate is also estimated It is low compared to other developed countries.
Another big part of the problem is that New Zealand has limited infrastructure to recycle plastic waste, so it is exported to economically marginalized countries for recycling.
As advocate Tina Ngata pointed out, it is Colonialism of waste. That is, we can’t deal with our waste, so we send it to countries with even fewer resources to deal with it.
We need to encourage children to consider the ways in which recycling is difficult and, at best, A partial solution before plastic pollution.
Good intentions do not always equate to good policy
Fruitless lunch attempts are becoming more common in schools. Such initiatives will help raise awareness among children about plastic waste.
However, they can easily become a top-down school policy rather than an opportunity for children to discuss the ethical and political complexities of plastic waste.
They can also create conditions in which children may be shamed or singled out for bringing plastic packaging to school, including children with disabilities, or children with disabilities whose well-being depends on their use. disposable plastic. Anecdotally, many students simply ask their teachers to hide their plastic waste.
but social shame Used in pro-environmental behavior modification, it is not great as an educational tool. Children and young people can feel powerless When solutions to environmental problems are beyond their reach, or simply do not fit.
According to Greenpeace Aotearoa’s Plastics Campaign, Yurisa LeeFree lunches and similar programs are:
“A good start is to raise awareness about plastic waste and its impact and to want a clean environment at school. But plastic waste isn’t the same as plastic pollution, and leaving plastic at home doesn’t solve either, does it?’
Lee believed that children could learn the importance of preventing plastic waste rather than finding solutions after it is produced and used.
The deviation was intentional
There are 20 companies in total Responsible More than half of the 130 million tons of plastic waste produced worldwide. Fossil fuel companies are doubling down on single-use plastic production, as are their other markets Decarbonization is underway.
According to Massey University Tricia Farrell, it is time to “get rid of language as garbage that is an individual responsibility. We need to move to commercial responsibility.”
Plastic Waste Reduction Framework The issue of individual responsibility can largely be attributed to a “Mass Deviation Campaign” The beverage industry began in the 1960s.
this A deflection campaign diverted attention from efforts to regulate plastic manufacturers. People, not corporations, have become polluters. Even today, the same corporations continue stalling and derailing regulatory efforts“Anything that promotes recycling as a convenient excuse to produce even more plastic.”
Packaging reports 46% of the world’s plastic waste.. Currently, some of the world The most polluting of single-use plastics These are the same corporations that led the campaign to banish “people as polluters” decades ago.
Environmental education can be a tool for real change
according to environmental education Professor Bronwyn Hayward:
“Too often, a moralistic and instrumental view of teaching that aims to change students’ lifestyles, such as encouraging children to recycle and reduce energy consumption, dominates, rather than thinking critically about political power, or asking questions like who has what and why. .”
Under public pressure, one of the worst producers of single-use plastics, Coca-Cola, recently pledged to divert 25% of its packaging Reusable packaging by 2030. It’s a start, but instead of waiting for corporations to get it right, we can work to build an infrastructure for reusable and refillable packaging and demand that Polluters pay.
Children can learn that holding corporations accountable and demanding regulatory change can have an impact. Let’s take care to help children cooperate whānau, iwi, communities and organisations It works to reduce plastic pollution at the source.
Sarah TolbertAssociate Professor of Science and Environmental Education, University of Canterbury. This article has been republished conversation Creative Commons license. Read it Original article.
Plastic Free July: Recycling is an ambulance at rock bottom. It’s time to teach kids to demand real change from the worst plastic manufacturers – SchoolNews
Source link Plastic Free July: Recycling is an ambulance at rock bottom. It’s time to teach kids to demand real change from the worst plastic manufacturers – SchoolNews